Sam: One Robot, a Dozen Engineers, and the Race to Revolutionize the Way We Build

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Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publish Date
6.3 X 1.1 X 9.2 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author

Jonathan Waldman studied writing at Dartmouth and Boston University's Knight Center for Science Journalism, and worked in print, radio, and TV before landing in books. His first book, Rust: The Longest War, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Colorado Book Award. His writing has otherwise appeared in The New York Times and McSweeney's. Visit him at or email him at [email protected].


"Jonathan Waldman is our next Tracy Kidder. A true-life business journey, SAM reads like a movie." --Seth Godin, author of This Is Marketing
"Jonny has delved deep into an intriguing entrepreneurial story that includes robots, bricks, construction, and all of the ups and downs of trying to get a business off the ground. Unlike many of today's 'just raise a ton of money and then good things will happen' stories, this is an awesome tale of grit, endurance, and relentless optimism against almost all odds. When you toss in the history and evolution of a bricklayer, you get a fascinating story. Read it--you'll love it like I did." --Brad Feld, Foundry Group
"A lively look at the team behind SAM, a 'semi-automated mason' bricklaying machine . . . This gripping story . . . proves its author to be an industrious reporter and natural storyteller." --Publishers Weekly
"[A] gripping tale . . . As one learns a great deal about geology from John McPhee and computers from Tracy Kidder, Waldman offers a lively, accessible overview of the bricklayer's art, which is much more complex than one might think. Apart from engendering an appreciation for the uses of technology, the author also adds to the literature surrounding the dignity of artful labor. Human meets machine, and both prevail in an engaging story of technology and discovery." --Kirkus Reviews
"A compelling, well-paced, and engaging account of the innovations developed by the startup Construction Robotics. . . . Fans of applied iterative trial and error, common to all innovation work, will appreciate this latest piece of popular science and technology." --Library Journal (starred review)
"SAM reveals a world that surrounds us but mostly eludes our notice--and that's quite a feat." --The Boston Globe
"Mr. Waldman follows all the drama like a fly on a brick wall, richly reporting scenes and conversations, many on job sites where both circuitry and civility break down. The book is reminiscent of a reality-TV show about a scrappy startup, complete with backstory segments as we learn the pasts and personalities of each new hire. . . . None of it is boring." --The Wall Street Journal
"Fascinating . . . It's a story with enough twists and turns and surprising conflict to engage even those who have never looked closely at a brick, or wanted to. . . . Waldman's endless curiosity and lively explanations make the book irresistible for anyone inquisitive about machines and the people who make and use them." --The Columbus Dispatch
"Waldman constructs a lively narrative about a subject as down-to-earth as bricklaying. . . . This book is a fascinating biography of a team of engineers and their quest to build a piece of equipment that can lay bricks. . . . The account of this start-up should find an audience among entrepreneurs and wannabes of all interests." --Missourian